King’s Lynn Stars confirm Elite League switch
King's Lynn will again host top flight Elite League speedway in 2011.
Co-promoter Buster Chapman confirmed Monday lunchtime the Stars will leave the Premier League to join a new eight club set up – a move which guarantees regular live television Skysports coverage and some of the best riders in the country racing at the Norfolk Arena next season.
Lynn's hierarchy have decided to move up following lengthy discussions between Chapman and the BSPA last week to thrash out a deal after reigning champions Coventry and Peterborough decided not to race.
The Stars have dominated speedway's second tier since their last top flight spell ended in 2002, but Chapman believes the time is now right for a return. 'Over the past eight seasons we have enjoyed our time in the Premier League, but we have won everything we can possibly win and last season things started to feel a bit stagnated,' said Chapman. 'We could have stayed within our comfort zone and easily carried on in speedway's second tier but I think the success of the World Cup highlighted to me and a lot of other people that our track and stadium is world class and should be competing at the highest level.
'I also think it was important for the future of British speedway to be secured by another team joining the Elite League, so after taking our time to look at all the pros and cons I felt it was the right time for the club to make the step back up. It will be great for our fans to see riders like Darcy Ward, Freddie Lindgren, Chris Harris and Chris Holder racing at King's Lynn on a regular basis and it will also be good for the local area as it will bring extra tourism and worldwide attention to our very beautiful and historic town and coastline.'
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Chapman dismissed speculation Lynn have been enticed to make the switch with an attractive financial package from the sport's governing body. The club have also announced plans to unveil their first new signing of the Elite League season at a fans' forum on December 2 to be held at King's Lynn Town's stadium. (8pm)
He said: 'The club would like to emphasise to fans that despite certain press articles and rumours, the decision and investment required to move into the Elite League was made solely by the King's Lynn promoters and with the support of their sponsors.'
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Fellow co-promoter Jonathan Chapman moved to reassure fans worried about the increased costs associated with staging top flight speedway.
'We are aware some of our fans may be concerned about finances, but we can assure them that this is a calculated risk and not a gamble,' he said. 'The costs in the Premier League have crept up considerably over the past few seasons while in the Elite League the costs have levelled out, so with this in mind and the fact we will generate extra income through Sky and sponsorship it will all hopefully work out for the club.
'As well as fans being able to watch some of the world's best riders another positive is that admission prices will only increase by a small amount, while all children aged 11 and under will still be admitted free of charge. When you take into account that there will only be around 17 home meetings (which will be alternated on a weekly basis with the Young Stars) it will actually be more affordable to support the team over a season in the Elite League compared to a season in the Premier League.'
Lynn's top flight move looked inevitable over the weekend following a statement released by the sport's governing body stating reigning top flight champions Coventry and Peterborough would not line up after failing to declare their intention to compete at the recent promoters' AGM.
King's Lynn had been strongly linked with a step up to the Elite League as a result - amid fears the sport's lucrative television deal with Sky could be under threat unless the Elite ran with eight clubs. Lynn were initially confirmed as a starter in the Premier League for 2011 following the annual promoter's conference last week prior to the decision of two established clubs to withdraw from the Elite League.
2011 Elite League line up
Belle Vue, Birmingham, Eastbourne, King's Lynn, Lakeside, Poole, Swindon, Wolverhampton.
Norfolk Arena 2011 admission prices
Adults �15, concessions �12, �5 juniors (aged 12 to 15), free entry for children aged 11 and under.